The Military Police have investigated dozens of claims of soldiers looting and causing damage to Palestinian property during the search for three kidnapped teenagers in the West Bank in the summer of 2014.
The teens — Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel — were abducted and murdered on June 12, 2014.
More than a year after Operation Brother’s Keeper, around 10 of the investigations are still open and no charges have been filed in any of the alleged incidents.
Despite appeals by Haaretz, the Spokesman’s Unit of the Israel Defense Forces has not given any information about these investigations.
The Military Police have refused to say how many alleged incidents were investigated, but Haaretz has learned that there were 30 such investigations, most of them relating to property damage or the disappearance of belongings.
Of the 30 investigations, 15 were subsequently closed. In some cases, this followed the return of money that was stolen, while in other cases investigations were closed because Palestinian complainants did not cooperate or because there was insufficient evidence.
The other investigations are still open, but military prosecutors have not filed charges against any of the soldiers who were allegedly involved.
One such incident occurred in the village of Aqraba, south of Nablus. Soldiers took an envelope containing more than 15,000 shekels (close to $4,000) and a laptop computer. One complainant told Yesh Din, the nongovernmental organization that filed the complaint, that she was not given a receipt for the items that were taken, as required when money or possessions are confiscated by security forces. She later discovered that her watch and her wallet, containing 400 shekels, had also disappeared.
In an incident in Hebron, more than 100,000 shekels in cash were taken, as well as 21,000 Jordanian dinars, gold jewelry, four computers, DVDs and more. In this case as well, no documentation was provided to the family, as required. The owner of the house was apprehended and detained for two weeks, after which he was released without being charged.
In another case, soldiers broke furniture and emptied a refrigerator in a home in Abu Dis, beating up the owner’s son. The soldiers took 28,000 shekels and $6,000, as well as a decorative sword and binoculars, all without giving the owners a receipt.
Documentation is required when there is suspicion of links to terror, activists with Yesh Din noted. Many of the stolen items were simply looted.
“Looting continues. It’s unacceptable that soldiers enter houses and take things with no documentation, as required by law,” said Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, the coordinator of Yesh Din’s criminal accountability department. “This is the only was residents can appeal and try to get their belongings back,” she said.
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